Dubai: Those who might have thought the European system of agricultural subsidies was a source of joy for all who were entitled to receive them, they are quite right. Since the EU opened its databases to the public after massive pressure from political lobbies and non-profit organisations, everybody is now able to find out who gets what in payments from Brussels.
Browsing this database, for example through the web portal of non-profit organisations such as farmsubsidy.org, can be very revealing. It turned out that the EU was not only subsidising farmers, but a broad range of other companies, institutions and even private associations and clubs — all under the title of farm subsidies.
The EU pays a total of 55 billion euros (Dh260 billion) in agricultural subsidies every year — more than 40 per cent of EU's entire annual budget. The fact that a part of this money is reaching beneficiaries who are not really in the core farming business needs clarification, farmsubsidy.org says.
For example, last year a total of 315,000 euros were paid to German prisons under the title of farm subsidies. It is unclear if inmates were raising beans in the prison yard, as the data base does not elaborate.
Subsidies were also paid to monasteries and nursery schools. In Germany, golf clubs, surfing schools and glider clubs received up to 50,000 euros per year under the title of farm subsidies. In Danmark, a pool billiard club and an accordion player association received money for farming. In the Netherlands, a skating club and the amateur football team of Amsterdam's international airport were "supported."